Choice of sail size.
The Code Zero sails are available in 0.75, 0.8 and 1.0 m2. In the UK they are available from Karitek. We have used the 0.8 in winds up to the top of Force 5 and I think that 0.8m2 is the perfect size for NW Europe. The 1 m2 size is popular in Australia but there are differences in the wind there. We tend to get gusty low pressure winds while nearer the tropics, steady trade winds predominate. Also the density of the air is greater in cold dry conditions. When the above photo was taken the air temp was 5C and the humidity was 10% and the air density was 1.265kg/m3. 12 hours later, my brother in Melbourne experienced 38C and a humidity of 85% and the air density was 1.107, some 13% less. Since the force on a sail is directly proportional to the denisty of air and the square of the wind speed, for a given wind speed the force on the sail will be greater in cold dry air. In lochs and lakes the wind speed will be less than the open sea but as it will be gustier, I still think the 0.8 m2 is the most suitable size for NW Europe kayak sailing mostly in winds of Force 2 to 5.
Choice of mast length.
Several people in Scotland and Australia have shortened the mast and brought the tack of the sail down to nearly deck level (a cut out in the luff is then necessary to attach the stays to the mast). The idea of this is to reduce the tipping force of the sail in stronger wind. In practice, this doesn't work efficiently as the sail is working in slower, disturbed wind near the waves. My friend John altered his Standard 0.8 rig in this way and last summer, we spent an interesting afternoon comparing his modified rig with my unmodified Standard 0.8 rig on a pair of Nordkapp LV's in lively force 4 to 5 conditions on the Solway.
Swapping between kayaks, we could not detect any difference in stability between the two rigs. Secondly, the higher rig performed significantly better on all points of sailing but especially when close reaching. John has now changed his rig back to the higher standard arrangement. (Another drawback of mounting the sail lower and attaching the stays through a cut out in the sail is that you cannot let the sheet right out and let the boom swing in front of the mast if you are overpowered on a run.)
Launching the new Code Zero sail you are immediately aware of the increase in power. In a F4 wind the Code Zero goes up with a Whumph rather than the more gentle Whuffffff of the standard sail. If you are launching downwind in lively conditions it is definitely worthwhile paddling hard to reduce the apparent wind before launching. I also find it easier to launch on a broad reach rather than dead down wind in stronger winds.
I have also used the Code Zero on a fully loaded Cetus MV on a three day winter bothy expedition and a five day spring camping expedition. The loaded kayak obviously does not accelerate under sail power to the same extent as when day paddling. However, the help given by the sail at the end of a 44km day, when its getting dark and cold, has to be experienced to be fully appreciated!
Wear and Tear.
The white material does show the dirt so it is worth keeping it clean. I have removed stains with a dilute solution of cold water and a few soap flakes. My sail has no signs of wear or delamination of the mylar backed material. The shape of the sail has not distorted with fairly extensive use. This has resolved my one quibble with the Standard sail. After extended use, the leech material can stretch a little and flutter.
After testing the standard sail, I said I was blown away by it. After testing the Code Zero, it would take a hurricane to get it out of my hands. It has become such an integral part of my paddling, I cannot now imagine sea kayaking without it.
Flat Earth Kayak Sails Code Zero 0.8, first review
Flat Earth Kayak Sails preview
Flat Earth Kayak Sails fitting instructions
Is it worth tacking upwind with a Flat Earth kayak Sail?
Sea kayak sailing for non sailors
Flat Earth Kayak Sailing Code Zero 0.8 production version test and review.
Conflict of interest statement.
I was the first person to import a FEKS into the UK. I have bought two Flat Earth Kayak Sails as a normal customer but I have also been given two sails free of charge by Mick MacRobb (the designer) for testing purposes (I had to pay UK import duty on the first). I have since given the first test sail (FoC) to a friend but I still have the use of the test Code Zero sail and lend it to others, such as Mike in the first photo above.